The Leopard Prince / Elizabeth Hoyt. 2007
This is Elizabeth Hoyt's second book and for me it was as enjoyable as her first one, which was my favorite historical of 2006. Her first book used this device of telling a fairy tale, bit by bit as chapter introductions, that paralled the main story. This book had a fairy tale, too; I'd known that from the reviews I'd read, but I expected the structure to be the same as in The Raven Prince. Instead of chapter lead-ins, the fairy tale is embedded in the dialogue as Georgina tells the story to Harry. The book is full of witty dialogue, but it really sparkles in the places where the fairy tale is told. In addition to the theme of the fairy tale being a parallel to the story, Hoyt uses it to highlight Harry's logical, pragmatic character and Georgina's creative, romantic side. They're rather stereotypical male/female character traits that resonate because men and women often do approach stories very differently. And while the telling of the fairy tale is really a small part of the book, it's a revealing one and I'm so impressed with how it's used. I think this, combined with a lesser-used period setting (1760), and Hoyt's light touches of humor make her an author to watch. I hope she has a long and successful career; she's really that good and there's nothing wooden about her style at all.
One thing I haven't seen mentioned anywhere is the apparent cover goof. I assume the male hand on the cover is supposed to be Harry's. That's his right hand isn't it? If so, it should be missing a finger. I went back and checked the text to be sure. Oh well. Otherwise I think it a rather pretty cover and much less offensive than most.